50 Historic Facts About Castles & Palaces Around the World

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1 Amber Room

Amber Room

Amber Room was a chamber in Catherine Palace (near St Petersburg) which was decorated with amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Constructed in the 18th century, it disappeared during World War 2. It was considered an “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Reconstruction of the original Amber Room was installed in the Catherine Palace between 1979 and 2003.

2. Potala Palace in Tibet has been the official residence of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century until 1959. Built at an altitude of 12100 feet, it is the highest palace in the world and visitors are asked to acclimatize themselves before entering, as they are not allowed to take oxygen supplies into the palace for fear of fire.

3. The Spanish-built fort of Castillo de San Marcos in Florida was built of coquina, a sedimentary rock formed from compressed shells of dead marine organisms. It apparently had the ability to “swallow” cannonballs fired at it.

4. The Hellbrunn Palace in Austria is popular for its water-powered automation and hidden fountains including jets that spray water up through dinner guests’ seats.

5. Osaka Castle in Japan has been destroyed numerous times. The castle was originally built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was sieged in 1614, and 1615, exploded in 1660, burnt down in 1665, burnt down in 1868, & bombed during World War 2. The castle that stands today was rebuilt in 1995.

6 Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress

In Norway, there is a fortress called Akershus. It is believed that whoever controls Akershus also rules over Norway. The fortress has survived every siege in the last 700 years.

7. Jal Mahal (which literally translates to “water palace”) is a palace in the middle of a lake in India, and 4 of its stories are under the lake.

8. Ajyad Fortress was a centuries-old Turkish fortress which used to protect Mecca and the Kaaba from invaders and bandits, but it was demolished by the Saudi Arabian government in 2002, to build a Mega hotel complex.

9. Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul was built in 1856 at the cost equivalent to 35 tons of gold or $1.5 billion in today’s money. This was a quarter of the Ottoman Empire’s yearly tax revenue and was a huge expense, which led to the Ottoman Empire defaulting on its public debt in 1875.

10. The Citadel of Erbil located in the present day Iraq, is a mound that has been continuously inhabited since 5000 B.C. In 2007, all its inhabitants were temporarily evicted to conduct a restoration project, except for a single-family, who was allowed to stay and not break the continuous habitation record.

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11 Castle Attack Tactic

Castle Attack Tactic

An effective assault tactic on a castle was to mine underneath it. Sometimes the defenders would also mine and meet them underground, and a sword battle would ensue.

12. Loopholes were small slits in castle walls that let archers fire arrows. The modern use of the term reflects the apparent contradiction between the intent of an impenetrable wall and having small holes in it that allow defenders to gain an advantage.

13. Dover Castle is the largest castle in England. There are over 3 miles of secret wartime tunnels snaking deep into the cliff. Many of these tunnels are still undiscovered.

14. The Český Krumlov Castle in the present day Czech Republic has a moat filled with bears. It’s called the “Bear Moat” and it was first filled with bears in 1707, if not earlier.

15. The mysterious 120-ton boulder walls of an ancient fortress in Sacsayhuaman, Peru have survived thousands of years, including earthquakes, in part, because they “fit together with such precision you can’t fit a piece of paper between them.”

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16 Alhambra Palace

Alhambra Palace

The 15th-Century Islamic mosaics in Spain’s Alhambra palace display a near-perfect understanding of mathematical logic and 16 of 17 types of symmetry identified by modern mathematicians.

17. The pope has a summer/vacation home known as the Palace of Castel Gandolfo and it is technically an exclave of Vacation City.

18. Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace have horological conservators. Their job is to check the 400 clock as at Windsor Castle and 600 clocks at Buckingham Palace daily. They wind them all once a week, and reset them for Daylight Savings Time. The clocks in their kitchen, however, are set 5 minutes fast to ensure the food comes out on time.

19. China’s Old Summer Palace was a complex of palaces that was 8 times the size of the Vatican. Deemed the pinnacle of Chinese gardens, it contained exquisite artworks and many historical treasures. In 1860, the British sacked and looted the Palace for 3 days, turning it into its current state of ruination.

20. Fort Saint-Jean in Marseille, France was built with cannons facing the city, not the sea, due to constant uprisings.

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21 Herodium


Herodium in Jerusalem is a massive palace-fortress which was built on an artificial mountain by Herod the Great, way back in 15 B.C. It consisted of four 7-story towers, a bathhouse with three temperatures, courtyards, a full Roman theatre, banquet rooms, a full Roman garden, a 2x Olympic size swimming pool, and more.

22. The Nijō Palace in Kyoto has special floors that squeak when walked upon, a sound that is very similar to the Nightingale birds. So when attackers tried to kill the Shogun, they gave their position away, but only thought that the birds outside were chirping.

23. In the ancient Indian Kingdom of Golconda, King Ibrahim Wali designed and built a fortress city so acoustically perfect that a hand clap at the fortress gates could be heard at the top of the citadel itself, located on the summit of a 300-foot hill.

24. Actress Rose Leslie who played Ygritte in Game of Thrones, grew up in Lickleyhead Castle, her family’s 15th-century ancestral seat in Aberdeen, Scotland. She is a descendant of Charles II.

25. There are 5 temples in Kyoto, Japan that have blood-stained ceilings. The ceilings are made from the floorboards of a castle where warriors killed themselves after a long hold-off against an army. To this day, you can still see the bloody outlines and footprints.

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